At Pizza Expo last month, I spoke with a number of restaurant owners who were in the market for a new point-of-sale system. Many had been using their old system for over a decade, and were limping along with barely-functional hardware and ancient software. They've been trying to postpone the inevitable, but have finally realized that the benefits of a new point-of-sale system are compelling and the time to upgrade is now.
If you have been out of the technology market for the past 10 years, you may be amazed and overwhelmed when you start your research. How do you make the right decision to set you up for success for the next 10 years? Here's some tips to look for:
Point-of-Sale Software: Define Your Priorities
After watching 3 or 4 point-of-sale system demos, it's easy to gloss over the details and say "All software is the same!" But to make sure you get what you really need and want, take some time before you start shopping to outline the key features that are important to you. Since you already have experience with your current point-of-sale system, what do you like and dislike about it? What is special about your menu and ordering process that needs to work efficiently in your new system? What key reports and controls are important to you? Don't assume that just because it's in your old system that all newer systems have the same feature. Once you've got the basics checked off, then you can compare the bells & whistles of the newer systems to see which one really dazzles you.
Integrated credit card processing
If you've been using an ancient system or no system at all, you've probably been processing credit cards with a separate device. Modern point-of-sale systems incorporate integrated card processing for greater efficiency and easier tracking. This is a critical piece of functionality that can go a long way toward determining your ultimate satisfaction with the system. First, look for a system with direct processor integration, so you aren't wrestling with 3rd party middle-ware software. Next, you want to ensure that the physcial swipes are encrypted, so that no actual credit card data is stored on your system. Then, you can start asking questions about the details. Can you take a credit card over the phone for a delivery order? What happens if the customer wants to modify the order later? Can you pre-arrange for future orders? How do split tenders / split tickets work? How easy it is for servers & drivers to modify & report tips?
Think beyond your 4 walls - Online & Mobile Ordering
Point-of-sale software - the system that your cashiers use to ring up orders, is just the tip of the iceberg in pizza technology these days. Successful pizzerias are putting customers in control of the ordering process - whether online, with a mobile app, or even with a self-service ordering kiosk. The ROI is compelling - greater ticket averages, increased customer frequency and reduced in-store labor costs. In fact, the opportunity to easily integrate online ordering is one of the most compelling reasons many operators are looking to upgrade from older systems. And that integration is key. Make sure you choose a system with a proven, seamless online integration. Trying to create a link between your point-of-sale system and your online ordering provider can be frustrating - so skip the pain and choose a provider that can offer you both.
Put Customers Front & Center
While you've been stuck with your decades-old technology, your customers have been evolving rapidly, and technology can now play a critical role your marketing strategy. These days, customers like to connect with the businesses they love. Share your story with social media and personalize your connections with marketing tools that integrate into your point-of-sale and online ordering solutions. Customer loyalty rewards and e-mail and text message communications out to your customers based on their ordering habits can help to boost your business.
Make Convenience A Priority
Your pizza shop software should be working for you! Take advantage of modern technology to help you manage more efficiently, with alerts to tell you what to focus on and easy remote access to your locations, so that you can manage from anywhere. Consolidated reporting and central management tools help multi-store owners work efficiently.
It's the Company You Keep
If you've had your previous system for a while, you are probably an expert on it by now. Maybe you haven't had to rely on the company's support department for help - or maybe the company you bought it from isn't even around anymore. But when you make the leap into the modern world, you'll want a solid company behind you to help you make the most of your system. Make sure to include support services in your upgrade budget, and look for a company that is prepared to help you keep current with regular software upgrades and next-generation technology, so you won't be stuck behind the curve for so long again!
Granbury Restaurant Solutions offers modern point-of-sale systems for pizza restaurants and more, combined with our in-house online & mobile ordering apps, customer loyalty and automated marketing solutions, and multi-store management tools. Learn more about GRS Solutions!